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13

ForeW rd by David Doubilet O

ichael AW is an AMbassador of the sea: His intense energy, ambition and curiosity powers him across the globe and into the secret corners of our blue world. I have seen Michael move through airports, a virtual blur of orange towing a case flled with cameras nestled in SeaCam housings on his way to a new or favourite place to make THE underwater image. Michael moves around the world like wind but I have noticed that the wind always seems eventually to bring him back to Indonesia.

Indonesia is the white hot centre of the coral universe. “Coral Triangle” and “epicenter of marine biodiversity” barely begins to describe this oceanic wilderness. It is some of the most complex, beautiful geography on our planet. The islands of Sulawesi and Helmahera look like they were drawn by wilful four year olds. The Bird’s Head peninsula looks exactly like a squawking chicken. The patchwork of islands is a mosaic of habitat ranging from teeming coral reefs, rich volcanic sands and hidden mangroves.

Michael slows down when he enters the sea. He swims with precision and patience that allow him to capture extraordinary moments like blushing famboyant cuttlefsh confronting each other or the fuid living sculpture of the Wunderpus.

Michael’s book Indonesia’s Global Treasure transports us across the island nation of Indonesia from the wild mixing waters of Komodo through the weird and wonderful benthic world of Bali and Lembeh Strait and into the currents roaring through Raja Ampat like carotid arteries delivering rivers of nutrients. Michael was among the frst to swim with and photograph not one or a few but a squadron of whale sharks feeding beneath the fshing platforms in Cenderawasih Bay.

Michael is the consummate photographer, painting with fash, alternating backgrounds producing portraits and seascapes. A village pier becomes a cathedral of shadowy noon daylight flled with a carousel of silvery baitfsh. Sunlights spears through a rainforest canopy spilling into clear water mangroves.

This complex and habitat rich world is a fragile frontier, at risk from development, overfshing and climate change. Michael shows us the fragile beauty of the sea and what is at stake in this ocean kingdom.

The sea is the very essence of what defnes Indonesia. Michael has successfully peeled back the layers of life in this water country. The exquisite moments that Michael shares with us truly defnes Indonesia’s Global Treasures.

M

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